ACORN Tactics is a bite-sized, turn-based strategy game where players take control of mechs to fight back against an alien invasion. This isn’t Gundam meets Independence Day, though; all of the mechs are slow and spider-like, and all of the aliens are blobs. With a budget price, ACORN Tactics offers a more casual type of turn-based gameplay compared to something like Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle.
The story in ACORN Tactics is a throwaway. All that’s important is that alien blobs are invading — there’s really no development to the story outside of that. Each mission, given by the cigar-smoking commander, takes place atop what looks to be an oil rig in the middle of the ocean. A handful of alien blobs will be waiting, and players will be prompted to deploy their mechs how they like within a small area.
That’s when the battle begins and, well, it’s a pretty standard affair. Players and aliens swap turns and can either move around or attack if they’re within range. There’s nothing neat going on outside of that; it would have been cool to be able to combine mechs in a Voltron-style fusion, but, alas.
There is permadeath, but it’s pretty pointless in ACORN Tactics. Permadeath works in Fire Emblem because the units players control in battle are actual characters in the story. In ACORN Tactics, they’re just robots that don’t provide any connection to the player because there’s no story and they all look nearly identical. Sure, players can customize one mech to be purple and wear a cowboy hat while another mech is yellow and wears a clown hat, but when they die in battle players can just remake those same exact mechs again. Permadeath doesn’t have any consequences.
Players are given a small hub world — on another oil rig — between each mission. There, they can buy and customize new mechs, research new technology to make their mechs a little more powerful, or advance to the next mission. Aside from colors and hats, mechs can have a couple different weapon types, including shotguns, machine guns, and sniper rifles. I found the sniper rifle to be completely useless: it missed more than half the time, and for some reason it can only fire if it’s several spaces away from the target. My shotgun mech wore a cowboy hat, by the way.
It should be noted that the developer, TACS Games, is a one-man crew. From that perspective, ACORN Tactics is impressive; it’s very difficult to make a game, especially a fully-3D game. Still, ACORN Tactics doesn’t do a whole lot. It’s a very standard turn-based strategy game. There’s a lot of potential hidden under the surface for a charming and quirky game, but that potential isn’t fully realized this time around.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for ACORN Tactics was provided by TACS Games for this review.